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R.E.B.E.L.S. #1

Posted: Monday, February 16, 2009
By: J. A. Crestmere

Tony Bedard
Andy Clarke, Jose Villarrubia (c)
DC Comics
Plot: After his intergalactic police force L.E.G.I.O.N. is usurped, Vril Dox (Brainiac 2) flees to Earth chased by bounty hunters. Dox is told by a mysterious signal tells him to contact Supergirl and retrieve a data file implanted in her brain via post-hypnotic suggestion.

Comments: I came in to this book with two trades of the Waid/Kiton Legion and the Legion cartoon and I do not feel that the book did enough to provide me with an inroad in to the characters. Even if I wanted to comment as to the accurate portrayal of Skwaul, Hakk, Tribulus, Tigorr or Brutt, I would have trouble unless I wanted to use "accurate" to mean "lacking in personality." Besides the coldly intellectual Vril Dox and the whining of Skwaul, there is no distinct personality to any character (including Supergirl). The highlight of the issue in terms of writing comes from Supergirl burning a file on to a disc using her heat vision. I do know that optical media is recorded using lasers but this was the best part of a writing that consisted of a series of plot points designed to get to the real action that I can only presume is coming later on.

While the writing is largely uninspired, the artwork is filled with a great deal of promise. Andy Clarke's pages really bring something good to the material. The pencils take the detailed future grit of Barry Kitson's Legion of Superheroes and mix it with a heavy dose of Frank Quitely's work on All Star Superman. Clarke's Supergirl is less a teen sex kitten and more an average young woman who creates a beauty defined less by bosom and more by gravitas. Like Quitely, Clarke's pages are filled with a subtle emotionality that invites multiple viewings. Andy Clarke has positioned himself as an artist that I am going to watch. On his next project. The problem with his art is that it is just too good. It is so good that it brings all of the glaring weaknesses of the book to the surface. His complicated emotional palette is wasted in scenes that are weighed down with uninspired writing and non-human creatures that we can not read using the same body language. While the character emotions work too well, the fantastic space opera elements seem to be almost a visual afterthought. There is only one instance where Clarke gets the space opera stuff to really mesh with what his real visual strengths are.

Final Word: The writing is not good enough and the excellent art is wasted on a project that prioritizes a completely different set of things. While there are great comics in the future for Andy Clarke, the next issue of this book will not be one of them. Don't buy it.



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